4 days, 3 races, 3 states, 2 time zones, 1 ankle

I have a tendency to overschedule myself. I can’t say no to anything, and I pile on the commitments to my calendar until I feel tired just looking at it. Then when my hectic week arrives, I tell myself I will never overschedule again. And then I do it again anyway. It’s a cycle I can’t seem to break. So it’s really no shock that I signed myself up for 3 races in the span of 4 days, in 3 different states, while returning home from a week-long business trip, on the other side of the country. I’ve known this would be a rough couple of weeks for me since I planned it. But then I went and messed up my ankle, and I knew it would be even worse. 

To summarize my ankle injury, I tore a muscle running the Napa Valley Marathon and am supposed to be wearing a brace until April 18. During this brace time, I am not supposed to do ANY physical activity that puts weight on my foot… especially running. If I tear it more, I’ll need surgery. But I swear it feels so much better now, and I am stubborn. The thought of skipping the races I had signed up for seemed absurd to me. So I decided to run them anyway. My game plan was to take it slow, and just stop if my foot started to hurt. I knew I wouldn’t be able to run with any decent pace anyway, since I haven’t run a single step since the marathon and didn’t really run much before that.

First up: Security 5k in Las Vegas on Thursday. This is the third year for this event, and I’m proud to say I’ve run all three years. It’s pretty cool to run that early in the morning in Vegas, because nobody is awake yet. You’re running next to enormous casinos, and it’s just a very surreal scene. The weather was perfect, but I did regret wearing a black long-sleeve shirt after the sun started shining. The course was a little different this year, which I assume is to accomodate the increased number of runners. It was fairly flat, but a little peculiar as it went back and forth in loops up and down the same street several times, with a brief out and back on the strip itself near the start/finish. There was a really good swag bag, considering it’s only a 5k and a charity run. We got tech t-shirts as well as cinch bags, headphones, reusable sport water bottles, and some other goodies. The start situation was a little confusing since they had a 2k with walkers, who went before the runners, so the runners had to wait a few minutes to let them get a head start. But other than that, this was a well-managed race. I felt pretty good running it. Finished in 30:26. It’s a little frustrating because just a few months ago, I was running a lot faster. But I guess I have to cut myself a little slack here do to circumstances.

I then flew home from Vegas on Friday and was up bright and early Saturday morning for the 2nd annual Phillies 5k. I had jumped on this race last year when it was announced, and was lucky enough to make it in this year as the race filled up in record time. This year, they quadrupled the number of runners, and made a lot of changes to the course and post-race events to accomodate. Last year, runners were corraled onto the field for a cool-down lap on the field, which involved standing on the field waiting in line for over an hour to get a picture on home plate. BUT, I loved it. I actually stood on home plate at CBP, and the wait in the freezing temperature was worth it. This year, they streamlined the process by allowing you to take your own pictures on the field, but only on the outside, with no access to bases. They also changed the course to make it mainly in the stadium parking lots, which was odd. Last year we were running across Broad Street into Fairmount Park. I have to say, it was a little better last year, but I still can’t complain about walking on the field and doing a fun run with thousands of other Phillies fans. And we did get medals this year, and sweet tech t-shirts. The weather was slightly warmer this year, but not by much. Matt decided to run with me since he didn’t want to exhaust himself the day before the AC Half Marathon. It was fun to have someone to run with. I’m used to doing these races on my own. This is also a race full of people who are Phillies fans, but aren’t necessarily serious runners, so it has a more laid back feeling than other races. We jogged it and finished in 30:48. My foot still felt fine, which gave me a little more confidence going into the big race on Sunday.

After the Phillies race, it was time to gear up for the big finale of my crazy race weekend… the inaugural AC April Fools’ Day Half Marathon on Sunday. We arrived in AC on Saturday night to a freezing cold and rainy boardwalk, which had me very worried about Sunday morning. I pictured myself being cold and miserable and slipping on the wet boardwalk. I was dreading the race. I was also starting to worry about my ankle. Running 3 miles is nothing, but running 13.1 is enough to hurt myself pretty badly when I’m not supposed to be running at all. I was pretty anxious and had trouble sleeping. But we woke up on sunday to a beautiful sunny day. I put on my race costume, and started to feel better. Jen and I decided a while ago to do this race as a fun run and coordinated outfits inspired by this LMFAO song. How could you not smile when wearing neon animal print pants? Lots of other racers were in costumes, including Matt, who wore a tutu for the run. I was also super relieved that Jen decided to stick back with me. She just completed the NYC Half Marathon a couple weeks ago for a PR, and wanted to relax this time. We were a sight to see in our neon outfits. Lots of crowd members and kids were pointing and complimenting us as we ran by. The costume definitely makes the race a little more fun. I might try and wear more of them in the future.

The course was an out and back loop, which started out on the boardwalk. It was scenic to run by the ocean, and definitely something I’ve never done before. But after the 3 miles on the boards, my knees definitely felt a little weird. After the boardwalk portion, the course turns onto a parallel road, which goes through Ventnor and Margate. The road wasn’t closed and there was traffic pretty close to the runners, which was a little unsettling. But the course was very flat. And my GPS app was dead on with the mile markers, which has never happened during a race.

We were running between 10-10:30 miles, and I was feeling pretty good. I was pleasantly surprised to not be extremely winded, since I’m definitely not in the shape I was a few months ago. Then around mile 8, I got a shooting pain in my foot. It wasn’t in the same spot as my original injury, but it worried me enough that I had to stop for a minute. Jen and I walked for a couple minutes and it started to feel a little better. I thought it might have just been a cramp so we picked it up and jogged again, until around mile 10. Then it started to hurt again. I could have run through the pain, but I knew if I ended up tearing the muscle more and requiring surgery, I’d never forgive myself for being so stupid. Jen reassured that she didn’t mind walking with me, which we did until we hit 12.5. Then we jogged it out to finish. We ended up with a time of 2:25:01, and an average mile time of 11:06. Certainly not my best effort, but not bad considering we walked a few miles of that. I was happy to finish at all. I was also pretty pleased when I looked down at my watch at the 10 mile mark and saw that I was only about 4 minutes behind my Broad Street time from last year. I feel pretty confident I can pick it up and at least match my time from last year, as long as my foot doesn’t get any worse by then.

I was limping for a couple days after the race, but I’m feeling back to normal now. And now that the races are over, I intend on following the doctor’s orders and cutting back on the exercise until my next set of MRIs in a couple weeks. But hopefully I heal up quickly, because I’ve got a lot of races on the calendar… now scheduled through January 2013, with another fall marathon TBD based on whether or not I get into the NYC Marathon via lottery. Check out my schedule here.

Special shout-out to Matt, who came in 72nd overall in the AC Half! He doesn’t have a blog where he can brag about these things, so I’ll do it for him.

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